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The Real Reason for Stress and Burnout

Do the pink sands of Bermuda really handle it?.Hans Selye, the renowned authority on stress, commented that the only stress free state is when you are dead. Unfortunately, most of us would like to be stress free in this lifetime! The idea of "learning how to live with it", while intellectually clever, is not one that we can readily accept or should even give in to. Not too many years ago, attendance at workshops on a host of stress management techniques was a popular answer to this problem. As time has passed, those techniques have faded into dim memory but stress lives on. The vast majority of the solutions offered for stress management have not worked well, particularly the most popular one - getting away from it all to the pink sands of Bermuda.

Have you ever noticed that two or three days after that well-deserved vacation, you feel like you haven't had one? There's a very specific reason for that.After consulting with hundreds of practices over the past nine years, I have noticed that the single biggest reason for stress in a practice, or in life for that matter, is the number of undone or unfinished actions. In life, you will observe that every action has a beginning, a middle and an end. In other words, you start a task you know you need to do, and keep on it until you reach the final stage, a completed task.

Some people are good at starting things, but never finish them, while others (the procrastinators!) take forever to get started. So an uncompleted action is any action that has not been done to a satisfactory end. Sometimes a member of your team "completes" a task but it was not done satisfactorily; then someone else on the team (often you) ends up re-doing it, thus involving two peoples' time to get one task completed.A typical scenario is when you start to work on something, get hit with some other action that needs doing and put down the first one (uncompleted) to start the second one, etc.

etc. You as the practice owner spend your valuable time (maybe a lot) wondering and worrying if things are getting done and, if they are, are they getting done satisfactorily? Wearing both the Executive hat and the Dentist hat at the same time produces stress. No wonder so many practice owners have said to me, "I just want to be the dentist!" In a practice, there are literally hundreds of actions, big and small that you and your staff have to perform each day. And many of those tasks may not get completed that day or the next, or get "forgotten" or neglected for a period of time.A little test you could do is to walk around the practice and see what things you have thought of doing or have actually started to do that are incomplete, i.

e. fire yourself (small joke - it just seems like a good solution some days), replace the peeling wallpaper, clean your equipment, get your autoclave repaired, etc. etc. etc. It takes mental energy to remember to get these things done, and that then saps your physical energy. Now multiply that by five days.

Is it any wonder that by Friday evening you and your team are completely exhausted? Now multiply that by the uncompleted tasks carried forward from week to week and month to month. Ever had that feeling that you'll never get caught up? Can you see how this causes eventual burnout?.To clean up this mess and free up a lot of your mental and physical energy, the first thing to do is to discipline yourself to complete each thing you start from now on. Then make up a list of all of the unfinished tasks in your practice.

For example, the staff problems, revamping the recall system, the unwritten marketing program that needs writing, etc. Now complete these one by one starting with the easiest one, then the next, and the next, etc. By the time you get to the hardest task, you will have bundles of freed-up energy to attack it with. You will feel an immense release and a renewed energy level, I guarantee it!.So remember, it is NOT what you got DONE that stresses you, it's what you DID NOT get done!!.

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Janice Wheeler founded The Art of Management in 1989 to consult health care professionals in Canada. More information can be found at The Art Of Management.

By: Janice Wheeler



Mahogany Wood






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